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Monday, July 23, 2007

24 -- Sister Watch

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

Rilla: The Lives of Others
rilla: Pardon? Others? What’s wrong with our life?
Rilla: It’s the title of a movie…
rilla: Oh. What about it?
Rilla: Saw it last night. Where were you?
rilla: Watching Ratatouille.
Rilla: The animated movie? By Pixar??
rilla: That’s the one.
Rilla: Well at least we were on the same continent.
rilla: Huh?
Rilla: I was in Germany, you were in France.
rilla: Yeah, but I was in heaven and you must have been in…
Rilla: …hell a.k.a. East Germany, before the wall came down. What a story. The fear…the corruption…bugged apartments…big brother watching you even when you make love…your loved ones ratting on you to save their own skins... government sponsored terror at its best.
rilla: Well thank goodness they don’t have that anymore.
Rilla: Too bad that we do.
rilla: What do you mean we do? Government wiretapping is illegal here. That was amply proven by Nixon’s resignation.
Rilla: Which fairy wonderland do you live in? Oh, I forgot. Last night you were dreaming of rats who are chefs and the gourmet food they create. Well wake up, honey, and smell the coffee. On this continent, the president has declared that he is above the law and can wiretap whomever he wants to just because he is the president. Sounds so like what I saw in the movie last night…maybe we’re not there yet, but if we don’t watch out…we sure will be. What a ghastly world it was.

rilla: Mm…makes you wonder. How does an entire country relinquish its rights and allow itself to be dehumanized, abused and raped by its own government…the people who are supposed to be serving the public’s best interests?
Rilla: It’s a slippery slope and we’re on it. Starts off with good intentions…the justification for the GDR was protection of their own revolution, of their people. It ended up with persecution of anyone who spoke out against the government, labeling any intellectual an unpatriotic traitor and throwing them in a cell with no right to representation. In this country it is in the name of protection against a shadowy terrorist threat, that we are willingly allowing our government to rise above the law. Routinely, those who speak out against the government are labeled unpatriotic and undemocratic. We’ve even ratified a law that allows the government to label people and throw them into jail with no right to a fair trial. Sounds frighteningly similar. Either way, we the people are the ones terrorized, doesn’t really matter if it’s by foreign terrorists or homegrown ones…
rilla: See…now that’s why I watch fantasy. I stay away from horror whether it is fiction or non…
Rilla: Escape! How’s that going to help you? If you run away, who’s going to protect your rights, huh?
rilla: How’s watching distressing movies going to help?
Rilla: I actually enjoyed that ‘distressing’ movie very much. I believe that seeing such movies will remind us what can happen if we are not constantly vigilant, watching for abuses of power at every level of government. One other thing in the movie really bugged me though…
rilla: Pun intended?
Rilla: Why is it constantly depicted that the woman is the ‘weak’ one who can’t hold up in the face of oppression. Women, who at great cost to themselves, gave birth to humanity, and ever since have stood in the face of all kinds of oppression, discrimination, subjugation and death to protect their families. I mean really, I’m a little tired of the same scenario – the poor damsel in distress, all the time, either needs rescuing or puts her dear innocent mate in harm’s way. Reality versus fantasy, again. Is that what we think of our sacrificing mothers?
rilla: Started right there at the beginning with Eve…makes for a good story, IF you are male …
Rilla: How about your movie? You obviously enjoyed it.
rilla: Oh. Yeah! Baby! Good food, fabulous animation, great aspirations…a rat who doesn’t conform to rattiness but dreams big and conquers the gastronomic world against all Health Inspectors’ efforts. But, yeah, even in this movie, come to think of it, the supporting actress at first deserts her beau when he reveals he’s being led by a rat. Actually, when was the last time an animated movie had a genuine strong female lead protagonist?
Rilla: You mean the movies by Pixar?
rilla: Well, let’s look at Pixar movies…Toy Story – male lead, no real females to mention, A Bug’s Life – male lead, Toy Story 2 – male lead but interesting female supporting role, Monster’s Inc. – cute little girl, but monster leads are male, The Incredibles – more evenly distributed, but the Father is still the lead, Cars – definitely male lead, Finding Nemo – The only female character, Dory, is the most interesting, yet, she has a supporting role, and now Ratatouille – two male leads, one somewhat interesting supporting female… If an alien species knew nothing about us and only watched our movies, they’d come to the conclusion that our world has very few women…
Rilla: ...well, it seems to be what we believe as well, otherwise why would we, the majority, be so dominated by a minority? That's the reality... but coming back to virtual reality, of all the animated movies you’ve seen lately, have there been any female leads at all?
rilla: Hm…Shrek, no, Shrek 2, no, Shrek 3, no, Ice Age, no, Ice Age 2, no, Over the Hedge, no, even the next Pixar movie, Wall-E, is about a MALE robot! I can’t think of a female lead in the newer animated movies…can you? Pocahontas, Ariel, Anastasia, Mulan…where, oh, where have you gone?




NSA Watch
Read C. K. Kelly Martin's (a fellow blogger) article on harrassment of women on the web.
The Tall Poppy Syndrome

8 comments:

LynNerd said...

I think President Bush has better things to do than start up a Big Brother system to spy on good citizens. He just so happens to be privy to intelligence that us regular folks aren't. That's why presidents age so much while they're in office. And if we hadn't won WWII, we'd be living like the East Germans were before the wall was torn down. And we'd all still be living like that. And there wouldn't have been a wall, because we'd all be living under Nazi rule.

And 9-11 changed the wire tapping in our country. The terrorist threat is not a shadowy threat, but very real. If our Secret Service people need to eavesdrop and spy on terrorists, I say have at it, CIA and Secret Service. Hooray for them. And how about some help from good citizens, too? Because it's going to take all of us to deal with this threat. Enjoy the way you're living now, because hard times are ahead. And all the real-life heroines can join real-life heroes in this war because women aren't weaklings. Better be prepared to deal with Islamic Fanatics cuz they're no fantasy and they're here, there, and all around us. And when politicians play it down so they can win the election, when they harm this country and its citizens for their own glory and power trip, well, that really steams my noodle. Soon enough we will all have to wake up and smell the bombs.

Sorry such a bleak posting, but it is a bleak and very real situation we're facing.

Rilla said...

Hey LynNerd,
Yup, so true...if we hadn't won WWII goodness knows what our lifestyle would be like today. Hopefully there would have been an internal revolt against the Nazis by now...hopefully. But despite a whole truckload of terrorists banging at our door, we should always be wary of giving up our rights...the minute you lose democracy...you lose the plot anyway...and life rapidly gets a whole lot scarier and bleaker. Loss of democracy does not equal safety...

C.K. said...

"Either way, we the people are the ones terrorized, doesn’t really matter if it’s by foreign terrorists or homegrown ones…"

This is so true. And I don't think George Bush has better things to do. Fear is a mechanism of control. He and those like him need to keep it in place. It keeps us compliant.

Rilla, have you seen the See Jane studies on racial & gender disparity on TV for children? I really believe that the reason that boys generally don't like to read stories with girl main characters (which is something we hear *a lot*) is that we're teaching them from such a young age that girls are lesser beings that don't get to be the heroes/heroines.

Rilla said...

So true, C.K. Fear has been an effective tool of subjugation throughout history...and no different today. Hopefully, higher levels of education, better forms of communication and greater attempts to instill values of tolerance and global understanding will help us as humans make this world and this earth a better place to live in for all.

I have heard about the studies. Will look into them. I am so tired of hearing father's yell out to their sons in the backyard...don't throw like a girl, don't run like a girl, don't talk like a girl...well, I am a girl and that is NO insult. The only way we can address this issue is to continually write stories with strong female protagonists. It's the only way to change the perception. Caving in is not an answer. It only propogates the problem. And since girls read more than boys anyway, we'll be marketable too ;0
I was thinking more about Ratatouille and I realized that there wasn't a single female rat. Remy has a father, no mother, a brother, no sister and a gang of his brother's male friends. Among the hundreds of characters in the movie there are really only two females...the chef and the li'l ole granma...How on earth did our virtual worlds become so lopsidedly male?

C.K. said...

Definitely check out the See Jane stuff. Geena Davis is awesome. You can watch her speech at the 2007 National Conference for Media Reform here:

http://tinyurl.com/2rh2oz

"The only way we can address this issue is to continually write stories with strong female protagonists."

And then we need to get the boys to read them, which is a big challenge. We have to start in early childhood and keep the strong female characters coming. But there's so much we can't control - like the fact that publishers and production companies need to see our work as marketable before they invest in it. In movies and in politics (less so in publishing because more readers are female than male) the default state of existence still seems to be overwhelmingly male (and white male at that), like you note with your examples of kids movies. Look at the press Hilary Clinton garners for daring to have cleavage (http://tinyurl.com/37y3yb), unreal!

Here's to female presidents, female talking rats and real freedom for all.

Rilla said...

I'll drink to that!
Thanks for the url's. I'm appalled at the way a lot of women treat Hillary Clinton. Almost as it they are either emabarrassed that a woman would stand for president, or jealous ;P But the sad truth is that if we stood together for our gender, and brought up our sons and daughters to be gender unconcious, we would be way ahead of where we are right now. Mother's who tell their sons to 'be a man' and their daughters to 'act like a lady' are just as much to blame for women's lack of recognition in society as chauvinistic men...sigh...

LynNerd said...

Speaking about how women are treated, did you see that program on Fox Cable last Sunday about Moderate Muslims or something like that? I only saw a small part of it, but PBS made it and then didn't show it. I already knew that a lot of those Middle Eastern countries allow any male relative to kill their female relative if she embarrasses the family, etc. Some of the younger Muslims are breaking away from that mentality, but a lot of them still believe in it. Even though they move to Europe or America, they think they can still get away with that crap. So aren't you glad I'm writing on your blog, Rilla, with all these happy thoughts? Geez, I'm depressing myself by even thinking about the things that happen in this day and age. Yeah, I think escaping into fantasy stories is sometimes a good idea.

Rilla said...

Hey Lynnerd,
Nope...don't have cable ;) Get my news off the net. But, yes, I do know that most cultures allow atrocities to be performed on their women, some worse than others. The only way to help women is to educate them, empower them and give them jurisdiction over their own bodies. A great many of the problems of the world would be solved...including our incredible overpopulation of this fragile planet. Yup...so much horror in the real world...fantasy is a great place to live.